Travel
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4
Dec

Why You Should Visit Rwanda: A DFW Member Experience

By Linda Baxter, Dining for Women Member 

As part of Dining for Women’s Travel Program, a group of travelers will visit Rwanda February 18-25, 2018. DFW member Linda Baxter lived and worked in Rwanda and shares her experience in the country.

In 2014 and 2015, I was living in Rwanda and working for the Human Resources for Health (HRH) project. Our goal was to assist the staff of the University of Rwanda in their efforts to improve medical and nursing education and practice. I was assigned to a more rural school of nursing and midwifery in the town of Gicumbi (Byumba) where I worked with faculty, and students – in classrooms as well as the hospital and local health center.

Often when I tell people I lived there, they react with awe as if I had been in a very dangerous place – and I have to explain how calm, safe, and beautiful Rwanda is. The climate is great, the people are nice, friendly, English-speaking (mostly), and it is VERY safe.

Everyone remembers the genocide, but forgets that it happened 20 years ago. Rwandans and their government have worked hard to move past that awful time – never forgetting, but developing their economy to make Rwanda a better place. I think Kigali must be the cleanest city in Africa! There is little crime (maybe some pickpockets at the busy, crowded central bus station), and I always felt safe – walking, in taxis and on buses – both in urban Kigali and in more rural areas and villages.

Having spent many weekends in Kigali I found many excellent restaurants – and Dining for Women travelers will visit the best of them! Heaven (where they greet you with “Welcome to Heaven”) was a Friday night favorite for our group.  Republika Lounge (with one of the best gifts shops) was another favorite, Sole Luna has good food and a regular “Trivia Night”, and Khana Kazana was an Indian favorite. I even stayed at Chez Lando Hotel and found it to be a very friendly and comfortable Rwandan facility.

Many of my colleagues as well as my daughter and I visited Volcanos National Park for monkey and gorilla trekking and found it to be truly amazing (some said life-changing)! It’s hard to believe you are standing 15 feet away from these gorilla families just watching them go about their normal activities. We saw twin toddlers, a mom breastfeeding her newborn, several adolescents – and of course the huge silverback who stood guard over his family. The guides and guards made us feel safe with their instructions on our behavior and their obvious familiarity with these gorilla families. Rwanda carefully and wisely restricts visitors to one hour per day to preserve the lifestyle of these special creatures.

I wouldn’t go to Rwanda and miss this opportunity – it’s truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend time with one of Dian Fossey’s gorilla families!

I enthusiastically encourage people to join Dining for Women’s trip to the Land of a Thousand Hills - as I know you will love it.  This could be your best introduction to Africa!


Linda Baxter is a member of Dining for Women’s Great Barrington, MA chapter and serves on the organization’s Grant Selection Committee.  

For more information on the DFW trip to Rwanda, visit here.

katherine-redington
28
Jun

Get to Know Elevate’s Katherine Redington

Members have been telling me for over two years about the importance of our travel program, how it has transformed their lives, and how they feel more connected to the women and girls we support through our grantees.  Announcing our new travel provider in May means that soon you will have that again!

We introduced Elevate Destinations to you in our May announcement, but I want to know who will be planning these trips.  Katherine Redington is Elevate’s Director of Donor Travel and I asked her a few questions so we can all get to know her better. Details


Peru 2014: The floating islands

By Lisa Eurich

First off, I really enjoyed the very short but sweet stay we had at Llachon. The food was delicious (especially the fried cheese for lunch) and the families were very hospitable. I would definitely recommend a homestay at Calixtos hospedaje. Our mamacitas gave us little bouqets of geranium flowers and munyo. Details


Peru 2014: Exploring Pucallpa

By Karen Zocchi

Our loads considerably lightened after distributing baby clothes and supplies, maternity gowns and medical supplies, we spent some time in the town of Pucallpa. We took a boat ride in the lake and saw many vultures, tuki tuki birds and had a wonderful lunch at a floating restaurant with our friends that are beginning to feel like old friends – not strangers that we met five days ago!

We motored by the bathing spot for the vultures. After cleaning in the lake, they stand on the bank and spread their wings to dry. Very impressive! (some of us thought menacing would be a more appropriate adjective!)

There are many small green plants floating on the lake. They were so thick that the tuki tuki bird appeared to walk on water. When the tuki tuki found a promising plant, he would flip it over and eat the insects off the bottom.

We learned an interesting old tale. It was feared that dolphins stole women by impregnating them. No women were allowed to swim in the lake during the time they were fertile!

Tonight we head back to Lima and a few hours later we head to Puno and our home stays.

As we finish off the first part of our trip, I’d like to extend a sincere thanks to everyone who donated and helped us collect supplies. They were very gratefully received!

Peru 2014 arrival
20
Oct

Peru: We’re here

By Karen Zocchi

Oct. 20, Day 2

Fifteen women.

Thirty large suitcases and duffel bags.

More than 15 backpacks and additional bags.

One very determined tour leader and one very patient airline employee who worked magic math to get everything on the same plane. A short, smooth ride and then…

Loud music, people clapping, putting paper leis around our necks, welcoming us to Pucallpa and inviting us to dance. Right now. In the airport.

All the planning, collecting, buying, packing and schlepping giant suitcases to another continent seemed a distant memory.

Thus begins our adventure with InMed. Tomorrow we will meet the people who are served and supported by InMed. We can’t wait!

Children of Vietnam 2
10
Mar

A special dinner at Children of Vietnam

Each of three small groups were guests at a beautiful, bountiful luncheon which had been prepared by single mothers – recipients of DFW micro-loans to Children of Vietnam’s Empowering Foundations for Women & Children (EFWC).

How appropriate that the last line of the DFW Dinner Affirmation reads, “May we all be able to feast together some day.”

(And then, of course, there were the dishes to do!!!)

Children of Vietnam 3 Children of Vietnam 2

Children of Vietnam 4— Marilyn Murphy

 


Visiting Children of Vietnam

COV

DFW member Ashley Gibb at Children of Vietnam

 

By Cynthia Sawtell
San Anselmo (CA)

Feb. 22 — Our day started off rainy and cool. We spent most of the morning in the wonderful Ethnographic museum learning about the 53 ethnic minorities which together make up 14 percent of the population. Later, we visited an ancient Confucian university with its lovely gardens and shrine. The rest of the day was deeply meaningful. Details


The sights and sounds of Hanoi

By Karen Hasara
Springfield, Illinois

Feb. 21 — Our first full day in Hanoi and what a day it was! Our first venture was a walking tour of the old city and our first lesson was learning how to venture down the sidewalk together and to cross a street and survive! We learned that we had to carefully venture out, never hesitating, never running, and not trying to go back. Details


Life on Tonle Sap Lake

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DFW travelers receive blessing at a Buddhist monastery

By Thora Pabst
Greeley, CO

FEB 20 — Our group, perhaps a little worse for the wear, left bright and early for Tonle Sap Lake, the largest fresh water lake in Asia. This area supplies the majority of fish brought to the market. Life on the water can be challenging in so many ways. Homes are generally on stilts to receive the benefit of breezes and protection from rising waters during the rainy season. Modern amenities are virtually non-existent. Though their situations seems cobbled together, the residents appeared undeterred in their pursuit of daily life. Details

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20
Nov

Visiting Matrichaya

By Tina Romenesko

During the afternoon, we headed to the Munda tribal village on the outskirts of Ranchi. The projects in this village are overseen by Matrichaya graduate, Bacchan Devi. Bacchan is a shining example of the ever widening circle of women. When she heard about Matrichaya, she thought because she was uneducated, she wouldn’t qualify. Details

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18
Nov

Consult not your fears…

By Donna Shaver

The day began with a visit to the Spoken English and Computer Literacy programs for girls. Each is a three-month program. These are introductory classes, and the current group of students has had only had one week of classes. All of the girls are from impoverished families. Details

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16
Nov

Anchal: The circle of women

By TIna Romenesko

Today is a day that all of us have been looking forward to since signing up for this Indian adventure. As we enter the Vatsalya building, we are again greeted by the lovely Jaimala. Today is a workshop day, so the women are sitting on the floor, sewing, measuring, and marking fabrics with Executive Director Colleen Cline. Details

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16
Nov

An Ancient Scene

By Betsy Dunklin

On Nov. 9, after our visit to the Taj Mahal and on our way to the Agra Fort, we rode through an agricultural area with miles of recently harvested flat land, providing a respite from clamorous and congested Delhi. We saw no villages or houses, just the highway and farm land. In the middle of nowhere, a restaurant appeared, where we had a buffet lunch. Details


India 2013 Trip Diary: At the Taj Majal

By Donna Shaver

The astonishing white dome, barely visible in the hazy morning sky, rose above the deep red stone wall.  Just this preliminary glimpse of the iconic Taj Mahal was sufficient to bring a collective gasp of awe from our group.  We had waited in line for an hour and a half and that moment made it all worthwhile.

We piled into the bus at 6:15am for a short ride to the Taj.  Our most excellent guide, Sujata, secured our tickets and we joined the already lengthy line.  We had heard the day before that the sky would be hazy in the morning, but we decided to take our chances,  As we came at last to the red stone gate, the Taj Mahal was framed in the arch like a mirage.  I was surprised to find, in spite of the growing crowd, that each of us could capture that moment on our cameras unobstructed.

Now the Taj could be seen in all its splendor.  In the gauzy light, the Taj seemed constructed from the sky itself, floating above the earth.  We spent quite a bit of time photographing the Taj and each other in front of the Taj, interspersed with long moments contemplating its ethereal beauty. We also had a group picture taken before making our way down the steps onto long path to the world’s most famous tomb.

Details

13
Nov

India 2013 trip diary: Bliss Yoga

India 2013 Yoga

By Tina Romenesko 

We were up and out of the hotel by 6:45 a.m., headed back to Kairali spa for morning yoga in their beautiful garden.  Our instructor, Swami Ganeshanand, is the founder and leader of Ananda (Bliss) Yoga.  Dressed in traditional white guru garb, he moved us through an energetic practice focused on quick repetitive movements synchronized with powerful exhalations to detoxify, energize, and open the body and mind.  The alignment cues were minimal – and as a yoga therapist – I was worried about the members of our group with lumbar and shoulder issues.  My sense is that the acute focus on anatomy in the U.S.  is a point where East and West diverge.  Perhaps the truly integrated practice is a place where the  traditional practice, with its emphasis on spirituality and energetcs, meets the modern view of wellness.

We ended with a lovely guided savasana, listening to the urban birds singing their Delhi morning songs.  As we came to standing – Swami Ji announced that we would be ending with Laughter Yoga, throwing his arms up into the air and releasing the most contagious laugh I have ever heard in my life!  We all joined in, arms extended toward each other with the Swami at the center of our circle.  “It is important every day to laugh”, he said.  “It releases stress and warms the spirit.”  Wise words from our wise teacher.


Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Saying goodbye

Travelers on last weekend with their guide - Manuel (center). Back row (L-R): Sue Fernbach, Colleen Blanchfield, Cristina Ramey, Rosemary McGee, Sheila Cook Front row: Lauren McCarthy, Manuel and Lynn McClenahan

Travelers on last weekend with their guide – Manuel (center). Back row (L-R): Sue Fernbach, Colleen Blanchfield, Cristina Ramey, Rosemary McGee, Sheila Cook Front row: Lauren McCarthy, Manuel and Lynn McClenahan

By Christine Ramey
Atlanta (GA)

Friday morning, October 11th, we are up for our last day in Panajachel where we have until 10am before our journey to Antigua begins. Some of us head off to a used Huipil Market, others take a walk to Lake Atitlan to enjoy the view one last time and several wander the main streets of Calle Santader for some last minute bargain shopping.

At 10am, we load up our bus with our trusted driver of Four Directions, Noel, and take off. Not too long after taking a final ascent up our favorite windy road of Panajachel, we come to a complete stop amidst a parking lot of traffic. We discover that the local community is protesting the high cost of electricity. This puts a less than desirable kink in our journey, as we make the decision to turn around and head back down into Panajachel to take an alternate route. What would have been a roughly 2.5-3hour trip, quickly turned into a 5 hour ride! But, hey, we can at least say we experienced everything Guatemala has to offer, right! Details


India 2013 trip diary: Getting to know each other

By Tina Romenesko

Our DFW adventure officially began on Nov. 6, Wednesday, with everyone arriving throughout the day.

We met at Grace Home – situated in a trendy area of South Delhi – and a small group of us shared dinner and got to know each other.  After breakfast on Thursday, we gathered together and shared our experiences with DFW. Taryn Walker, trip leader, also asked that we share an attribute we bring the group, and something we would like to work on personally while traveling in Inda. Details

15
Oct

Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Thirteen Threads

Las Rosas

Las Rosas

By Christine Ramey
Atlanta (GA)

We started our morning leaving our hotel, Utz Jay, which today I discovered means “good home”, to walk over to the Mayan Cultural Center where we would spend time with our third organization, Oxlajuj B’atz’, or Thirteen Threads.

Receiving a warm welcome by the ED Ana Socorro Cumatz, we enter to find a room full of beautiful Mayan women and an altar that has been set up for us to participate in a Mayan ceremony. We were given some background on the altar set before us. Oct. 9 is a particularly special day as the Nawal-Energy is B’eleje’ B’atz’ signifying the female energy of the universe.  Details

15
Oct

Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Mercado Global

 

Mercado Global File Photo

Mercado Global File Photo

By Lauren McCarthy
Minneapolis (MN)

We visited Mercado Global on Wednesday and saw a different side to traditional Mayan weaving. Mercado Global has 31 cooperatives with about 340 women across Guatemala. It is a fair trade fashion nonprofit that sells wholesale to Anthropologie, Lucky Brand Jeans, Levi’s, Red Envelope, Henri Bendel, Calypso, and some Japanese retailers, among others. Although it is based in New York, the bulk of the staff are in and around Panajachel. Mercado Global’s immediate goal is to double its number of cooperatives/women in the next year but its larger objective is to change how the fashion industry operates, especially since the majority of workers in the industry are low-paid women. Details

15
Oct

Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Friendship Bridge

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By Rosemary McGee
Abington (PA)

We woke to a glorious sunny morning in Pana today and after a quick (but delicious) breakfast of fruit and banana bread headed off to visit with Friendship Bridge located around the corner on Calle Santander.

We were greeted warmly by Marta Ixtuc, Communications Coordinator and all around promoter of Friendship Bridge’s mission. She gave us a quick overview of the Microcredit Plus Loan Program, which received a DFW grant in 2007, and emphasized their dual mission of providing loans as well as education to Guatemalan women since 1998. Details


Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Starfish One by One

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By Stephanie Sawyer
San Luis Obispo (CA)

After breakfast at our hotel, Utz Jay, this morning we took the one and a half block walk over to Starfish One by One. Melanie was our guide for the day and greeted our group with many hugs and warm welcomes!

After introductions to the staff and volunteers, they gave our ladies an overview of the services which include tutoring and mentorship programs for first generation high school students. Most of the girls are the first in the family to graduate due to many economic and social obstacles. This is where the work of the mentors fits in. Because parents haven’t received formal education, they often don’t understand the opportunities and benefits that can help the whole family after educating their daughters. The girls who are selected enter into a six-year leadership program. There are 220 girls currently enrolled. Since the pilot program in 2008, Starfish One by One has had 13 graduates, 7 of which are in university! For this team, it isn’t about how many, but rather how far one girl can go! Details

7
Oct

Guatemala 2013 Trip Diary: Totonicapan

Guatemala: Totonicapan

View of Volcán Atitlán, Volcán Tomilán & Volcán San Pedro at Lake Atitlán overlook.

By Christine Ramey

Another early day greets us as we wake up in Panajachel for breakfast at 7am. Once our bellies are full and happy, we are all gathered up and ready for our bus ride to Totonicapán, a 100-kilometer ride through very windy mountainous terrain, which left a few of us (me included) a little queasy. We are with our same guide from yesterday, Julio with Four Directions, who starts our morning off with a question, “is your heart happy today?” Which definitely puts one in a great mood! Before we took off officially from Panajachel, we stopped off at an overlook to see the gorgeous view of Lake Atitlán with three of their volcanos set as the backdrop; Volcán Atitlán, Volcán Tomilán & Volcán San Pedro. Some of the ladies even managed to get in some early shopping of jewelry and handmade figurines, as there were street vendors at the stop. Details


Guatemala 2013 trip diary: MayaWorks

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By Lauren McCarthy
Minneapolis, MN

We started our tour of five visits to featured organizations at MayaWorks, spending the better part of Thursday and Friday there. MayaWorks uses traditional Mayan weaving techniques to create products for an American market, such as luggage tags and yoga bags. Jeannie Balanda is the director of MayaWorks and accompanied us both days to introduce the women, give background, and translate. We had the wonderful opportunity to meet with several groups of women weavers and seamstresses, as well as some of their students. Details


Guatemala 2013 trip diary: The gathering

The Guatemala travelers: ront row L to R- Colleen Blanchfield( Detroit, MI) Sheila Cook (Columbia, SC) Sue Garcia (Erie, CO), Karen Rawley (Weavers Way, PA), Lynn McClenahan (Portland, OR). Middle Row (L-R): Lauren McCarthy (Minneapolis, MN), Sue Fernbach (Asheville, NC) , Cindy Badocious (OH), Meg Sears (Bowling Green, OH), Cristina Ramey (Atlanta, GA), Rosemary McGee (Abbington, PA), Caarol Huckabee (Danbury, CT), Kira Walker (Atlanta, GA- trip leader). Back row: Barbara Myers (Newton, CT), Stephanie Sawyer (CA), Erica Crawford (Santa Cruz, CA).

The Guatemala travelers: Front row L to R- Colleen Blanchfield( Detroit, MI) Sheila Cook (Columbia, SC) Sue Garcia (Erie, CO), Karen Rawley (Weavers Way, PA), Lynn McClenahan (Portland, OR).
Middle Row (L-R): Lauren McCarthy (Minneapolis, MN), Sue Fernbach (Asheville, NC) , Cindy Badocious (OH), Meg Sears (Bowling Green, OH), Cristina Ramey (Atlanta, GA), Rosemary McGee (Abbington, PA), Caarol Huckabee (Danbury, CT), Kira Walker (Atlanta, GA- trip leader). Back row: Barbara Myers (Newton, CT), Stephanie Sawyer (CA), Erica Crawford (Santa Cruz, CA).

By Lauren McCarthy
Minneapolis, MN

We are all here! A few members of our group arrived early, but as of Wednesday at noon we have all made it safe and sound to Guatemala! We have had sunny and warm weather (about 75 degrees) and felt safe, although it is a bit conspicuous being with a group of 17 gringos.

After we got our luggage (and everyone’s arrived) and went through immigration and customs, we met our driver, Noah; tour leader Alfonso, and group leader Kira Walker, who were waiting for us. Details


Indonesia 2013 trip diary: Emotional connections and celebrations

Borneo 2

By Patricia Andersson
Portland, OR, chapter leader

Update #2 from Borneo: Our luck has been continuing on this trip — finding lost cameras, rains not arriving until the completion of a big celebration, and biggest of all — everyone staying happy and healthy. We’ve just wound up three amazing days with ASRI/Health in Harmony in Sukandana, and are heading off tomorrow to visit the orangutans. In Indonesian, the word orang-utan means “person of the forest” and indeed their word for person is orang, which makes it an easy one to remember. As always, I’m trying to learn a bit of the local language, and have down a few phrases, which I trot out much to the amusement of the local “orangs.” Occasionally I unknowingly toss in a little Spanish too, having only one file in my brain called “foreign language.” Big laughs, at my expense. Details


Vietnam 2013 trip diary: Rolling up our sleeves in the kitchen

Hoi An Cooking Class 2 Hoi An Cooking Class

By Tina Yoppolo
Sylvania, OH

We began our day with a walking tour of Old Town Hoi An. Well preserved temples, pagodas and ancient homes line the vibrant narrow streets. UNESCO has named this a World Cultural Heritage Site. Centuries old structures gave us the feeling of walking through 16th century Viet Nam. Our guide bravely took us through the Hoi An market to look, not shop! The bustling market was bursting with exotic fresh fruits, vegetables fish ,and meats. Open kitchens serving fresh local dishes, flowers, and spices all contributed to the visual and aromatic delights. Artisans sold their crafts, vendors offered silk scarves, kitchen utensils and so much more. Details


Vietnam 2013 trip diary: Visiting Children of Vietnam

lunch w COV

By Lynn O’Connell
Alexandria, VA chapter member

Living in Washington, DC, I tend to think of a nation or a destination in terms of its monuments and memorials.  So, during this week in Vietnam, as I have seen 200-foot tall Buddhas, statues, etc., I immediately assume “National Monument” and try to find out what it is in my guidebook or from my Vietnamese contacts at home.  Finally, one Vietnamese friend texted, “Remember, very few national treasures remain in Vietnam today.” Details


Vietnam 2013 trip diary: Day Two – Hanoi

Trip leader Marilyn Murphy

Trip leader Marilyn Murphy

By Katlin Smith
Vancouver, WA chapter leader

Why do we travel? Pico Iyer, the esteemed travel writer, says “We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate.” Certainly a Dining for Women trip does just that.

After a full first day, culminating with dinner and a water puppet show with the 13 sweet girls, age 4 to 16, of the Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam foster home, we started the second day slowly with a rickshaw ride. Details


Nicaragua 2012 trip diary: Felicidades a Mamá

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By Tina Romenesko

There was definitely an energy of celebration in the air as we headed toward that hospital in the morning. Mother’s Day in Nicaragua is a national and obligatory holiday. Imagine that! Only the restaurants and stores are open and everyone is shopping for mom! As we passed the market, I saw a large table completely filled with mother´s day cakes, a yellow cake with bright white frosting and lots of red frosting roses with Felicidades a Mamá written across the top. I bet there were 50 of them, monitored by two young boys, towels in hand, swatting at the ubiquitous flies that were trying to land on these masterpieces.   Details


Nicaragua 2012 trip diary: Healing

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By Tina Romenesko

The chairs were two deep in the hallways when we arrived at the hospital for our second day of the mission.  By 11:00, we had interviewed 30 patients and were well into seeing them in the treatment rooms.  There are usually 4 treatment rooms running at one time – each one lead by one of the four medical professionals on our trip.  Pam, Ilana, Ann, and Karen.  Our mission is to teach the Nicaraguan staff and ideally graduate them to teaching their own staffs in outlying hospitals how to perform the cervical screenings and remove pre-cancerous lesions on their own. Sadly, most of the clinics don´t have the equipment needed to remove the lesions, either by freezing them (cryotherapy) or excising them with a live wire (LEEP).  Training is one issue and funding equipment to do so is another. Details


Nicaragua 2012 trip diary: Where the streets have no names

nicaragua streets

By Tina Romensko

We began the day on the rooftop of the Hotel San Francisco, connecting our DFW hearts and minds with a gentle yoga practice overlooking the city of Granada. It felt so good to move and breathe together.  I taught the group Trimurti and Yoni mudras (hand gestures associated with the feminine body, mind, and spirit), uniting our intention of women helping women, as we headed for Leon and the beginning of our true meaning for being in Nicaragua, our medical mission with PINCC, or Prevention International:  No Cervical Cancer. Details


Nicaragua 2012 trip diary: Today I fell in love with Lake Nicaragua

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By Tina Romenesko

Manuel, our guide, and the lovely Flavia met us at 8:00 for our kayaking excursion on Lake Nicaragua.  The double kayaks offered us a stable entry into the second largest fresh water lake in Latin America.  We began our journey exploring the calm estuaries of the Peninsula de Asese.  Surrounded by water lilies and mangroves, we wove in and out and around small islands that are most likely the result of volcanic activity from 10,000 years ago.  Details


Nicaragua 2012 trip diary: Lost in translation

Nicaragua 2

By Tina Romenesko

OK.  We’re heading for Jubilee House – part of the Center for Development in Central America – and there is some confusion going on in the front seat.  I hear jubilado which means ” retired” and I’m wondering if we might be somewhat off target, when we arrive, after numerous twists and turns, at the old folks home!  Hardly the fair trade, conscious community we were hoping for. Details


Nicaragua 2012 trip diary: On our way

By Tina Romenesko


The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  -Lau Tzu

Headed for Nicaragua TODAY – for a medical mission – my first!  The opportunity is part of the Dining for Women program – thanks to Jill Haas for inviting me to be a part of the Milwaukee chapter.  I will have the opportunity to visit numerous projects funded by this group – including a completely independent women’s sewing cooperative in Managua. Details


El Salvador 2012 trip diary: Training day

By Ruthann Marquis
Portland, OR

An early start to our first day with the PINCC team included a hearty breakfast at 6:30 and filling two vans that headed out of San Salvador to the town of Nejapa.  There we joined 33 doctors and nurses for a day of training.  The nurses and some of the doctors (this week known as students) learned about the disease process of cervical cancer and the visual inspection procedure with acetic acid (AKA common kitchen vinegar) known as VIA.  This is the low cost, very transportable, visual screening that PINCC takes on the road to low-resource countries. Details


El Salvador 2012 trip diary: Reflections

By Patricia Spross

Today is Wednesday and I woke with a migraine.   So I stayed home to sleep in my dark room until it passed.  Waking in the early afternoon, I take this time to reflect on my first day at the clinic.  Nearly 60 women were treated in an energetic setting of Salvadorean doctors whom PINCC has trained to teach the screening procedure (maestras).  Also present were about 15 to 20 doctors and nurses being trained by the maestras to perform the vinegar procedure.   Details


El Salvador 2012 trip diary: At the clinic

By Patricia Spross

Today we worked at the clinic in San Jacinto, about 45 minutes outside of San Salvador. The doctors saw about 45 women.  Once again, I was given the opportunity to do interviews.   Nearly half of the women I interviewed had experienced some form of sexual abuse.  They never included those experiences when they gave the number of their sex partners.  There were psychologists on hand to counsel these women.  Details


El Salvador 2012 trip diary: First Day in Action!

By Ruthann Marquis
Portland, OR

Our first day in action with PINCC sped by! Severe traffic delayed our start which added to the frenzy. We worked at a Pro Vida clinic in Nejapa, where women had already been screened for the services offered today. There was an entire courtyard of women waiting when we arrived! Work stations were established, rooms were stocked, paperwork was stacked and patients were seen. Details


El Salvador 2012 trip diary: Volcanoes and domestic violence

By Patricia Spross

 Today we hiked around the perimeter of the volcano. On the hike the contrasts of the beautiful country of El Salvador were once more in evidence. Wizened bare chested men carried lush calla lilies and colorful tropical blooms on their bent backs. A woman in her thirties did not smile for the camera because her front teeth were missing. We pondered why they were missing from her mouthful of healthy teeth.  Details


El Salvador 2012 trip diary: Archaeological sites

By Ruthann Marquis

Today our travels took us northwest of San Salvador to visit two different archaeological sites.  One was discovered in 1976 by accident, as land was being cleared for construction. It has since led to the unearthing of several homes from the year 590 AD, when an explosion of the Laguna Caldera covered the indigenous people and their homes with molten lava.

Typically there were three buildings in a housing complex: one for storage, one that served as a kitchen and one was for sleeping.  However, after seeing the hard bed platforms in the dormitories, it was a far cry from what we know as beds today!  Details


El Salvador 2012 trip diary: The women of Pajaro Flor

By Ruthann Marquis
Oregon

Visiting the women of Pajaro Flor in Suchitoto today was like visiting a success story that is written in Dining for Women language. Although not a program supported by DFW, it is a clear example of strong women taking a stand for their rights and empowering women in their community to better themselves and their families.

This group was founded in 1991 near the end of the Civil War in El Salvador when it was seen as an important time for women in the history of their country. The founders of Pajaro Flor seized the opportunity to help women access land of their own, increase the awareness of domestic violence and strongly denounce it, and encourage women to participate in their local communities and governments. Details


El Salvador 2012 trip diary: Learning more

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By Cheryl Ackman
Wisconsin

Yet another whirlwind day, filled with history and brutal truths of the Salvadorians’ not so distant past. We visited Arch Bishop Romero’s home and the chapel he was shot in while giving a mass to the people. He was killed by a sniper in March, 1980. He was so admired by the people of the country that 1 million attended his funeral in the central town square. Sadly, more snipers used this as an opportunity to kill 60 people on that Easter Sunday.    Details


El Salvador 2012 trip diary: Off to the mountains

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By Cheryl Ackman
Wisconsin

Today we traveled for an hour to San Luis Ranchos, along narrow and winding mountainous roads. We stared in awe at the vistas and gorges of tropical green forests along the way.

Arriving in a remote village, we were so excited to meet the women at the small center, made of metal walls and roof, which is supported by CIS and SEW (Salvadorean Enterprises for Women).  We were greeted with open arms and huge smiles by Delmy, the community women’s organizer, and her team of four other mothers from the local area. Also, with them were two scholarship students who are in the process of attending university through the generosity of CIS. The women shared their stories and told us what their participation in the co-op (dying Indigo and sewing school uniforms for government contracts) has given them. Details

Angie Maddox at Kibera
19
Oct

Kenya 2012 trip diary: Remembering

By Angie Maddox
It’s hard to believe almost a month has passed since my return from Kenya.  I think of the people and landscape everyday – constantly throughout the day.  I’m often asked about the experience and my response remains the same – Amazing!   Incredibly kind people, gorgeous landscape, and I’m still very much processing the experience.  Details

Boma Project
15
Sep

Kenya 2012 trip diary: A community felt by all

By Angie Maddox

This morning I sit watching wildlife from the Mountain Lodge, our home (with WiFi) for a few hours before we begin our journey toward Maasai Mara.  In my last post I mentioned visiting communities. One of the communities we visited a couple of days ago in the Samburu region is a community funded through The Boma Project.  It’s difficult to express in words the experience and the feeling of being greeted and welcomed into this community – there were so many senses stimulated.  Details


Nicaragua 2012 trip diary: The poetry of Dario

DFW PINCC Nicaragua trip 073

By Tina Romenesko

Before heading for the hospital, Patricia and Carol worked together to assemble the group, in full scrubs, for a photo. These two groups have melded seamlessly into one over the past 5 days. In our group meeting, the PINCC volunteers admitted they were skeptical about the  “Dining for Women” volunteers when we came in on Sunday. They´d already had a full week together and were very close, but the lines have completely blurred now and I can sense a gratitude that flows beautifully both ways between all of us.  Ann and Karen have even expressed an interest in joining a DFW group when they get home. Another full circle.  Details


Nicaragua 2012 trip diary: Endings

Julio, our guide, arrived at 8:00 sharp for our walking tour of Leon. After a few short blocks, he conscientiously sat us in the shade in front of a large mural that related the history of Nicaragua from its indigenous roots to the current president, Daniel Ortega. Interspersed with our history lesson, Julio encouraged members of our group to read aloud pieces of literature in English, merging sentiment and imagery with fact.  Lezli and I took turns reading A Roosevelt by Rubén Darío, which speaks directly and frankly to the bullying of Latin America by the U.S. government. Details


Nicaragua 2012 trip diary: In a country this poor, every donation is appreciated

nicaragua_truck

By Tina Romenesko

Friday morning.  Our last day with the medical mission.  The workload was lighter than expected as a group of 19 women, that we were hoping would arrive from a distant village, were unfortunately not going to be able to make the trip to the clinic.  The interpreters were sent into the hallways to do patient education and do interviews assessing the level of knowledge patients had about health issues in general, and cervical cancer, specifically.  Details


Nicaragua 2012 trip diary: We can fix this

datainput-PINCC

By Tina Romenesko

By 8:00 a.m, we were in the hotel lobby, wearing our scrubs and ready to go.  We each made a name tag that could be easily pronounced by our Nicaraguan patients. Lezli, Catarina, Daniela, Lina… then made some adjustments.  The hospital was crowded, inside and out, packed with people waiting to be seen.  We moved through the non-air conditioned hallways, heading toward the air conditioned conference room to meet the Nicaraguan doctors, nurses, and residents.  This is a teaching hospital, and some of the medical staff has worked with PINCC in the past three years, practicing to gain proficiency with the procedures to prevent cervical cancer.   Details